Growing up in a middle class family in Minnesota, I have many stories about the idiosyncrasies of my mother.  One of my favorites is her hand painted towels.  These towels were only put out when we were expecting “company” or guests.  They were something my dad had purchased and had a wildlife scene painted on them.  If we happened to wipe our hands on them, one of us five kids would die.  They were special and only for guests.   

I tell this as an example of how we prepare for guests.  My mom, even with her limited social graces, prepared for guests.  Ultimately that is the major difference between a customer and a guest. 

We prepare to welcome guests into our homes; we get the ambiance just right.  We may light a candle to create a pleasant fragrance, we prepare special food and drinks and we may even put out our hand painted towels. 

Why is it so different in the world of business?  I think the fundamental issue is our mindset of a customer vs. a guest. 

We prepare for a guest…We just take customers as they come.

We work hard to make our guests happy…We just take care of or manage our customers. 

Our guests have requests…Our customers have complaints.

We have encounters with our guests…Our customers are transactions. 

Our guests are invited…Our customers are an intrusion. 

Our guests have a welcome visit…Our customers are a per ticket average. 

Think about it and then start thinking about the people who visit your business as guests.  Maybe you’ll even get some hand painted towels.